COPY CAT / Cloning success brings pet duplication closer (2023)

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Tom Abate,Chronicle Staff Writer

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COPY CAT / Cloning success brings pet duplication closer (13)
COPY CAT / Cloning success brings pet duplication closer (14)

Scientists in Texas have cloned the first cat, bringing pet cloning closer to reality while touching off a controversy about what some consider a misguided scientific stunt.

Texas A&M University scientists Mark Westhusin and Duane Kraemer say the cat -- named "CC," short for carbon copy -- was born three days before Christmas, after a little more than a year of experimentation.

Their work was funded under a $3.7 million contract from Genetic Savings & Clone, a Texas company headed by Marin entrepreneur Lou Hawthorne and bankrolled by 81-year-old Arizona financier John Sperling.

Hawthorne said it would be at least a year before Genetic Savings & Clone, which controls the commercial rights to the Texas A&M process, might start accepting orders "on a limited case-by-case basis" for cat clones.

Hundreds of people have already paid the firm to store tissue samples of dogs, cats and other pets against the day when cloned companion animals might become a reality, he said.

"This is not something we did as a stunt -- it's too expensive for a stunt, " said Hawthorne, the company's chief executive officer. "We're doing this because there's a demand."

ACTIVISTS QUESTION NECESSITY

But animal rights groups criticized the focus on cloning when so many pets die each year from abandonment.

"We kill about 7 or 8 million cats a year in this country," said Kathy Guillermo, spokesperson for the Norfolk, Va., animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "If John Sperling had wanted a companion animal, I could have saved him about $3.7 million by sending him down to any pound."

Guillermo said cloning might also prove harmful to the animals, citing recent evidence that Dolly the sheep and other clones might be prone to premature aging and obesity.

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Kraemer, the Texas A&M scientist, said that so far CC appeared to be normal in all regards. "She's certainly playful, which is one of the things you look for in a kitten," he said.

The cat cloning is actually an outgrowth of an earlier, and as yet unsuccessful, effort to clone Sperling's beloved dog, a border collie-Siberian husky mutt named Missy.

Sperling is the founder of the University of Phoenix, a for-profit university, and chairman of the Apollo Group, a holding company for a variety of business and charitable interests.

LESS SUCCESS WITH DOGS

The dog cloning has proved particularly tough, Kraemer said. By contrast, he said, scientists have a better understanding of cat embryology and more experience working with them in the laboratory.

The relative simplicity of cat cloning apparently coincided with the commercial interests of Genetic Savings & Clone. Hawthorne said that after earlier news stories about the dog cloning prompted a flood of inquiries, he realized that about 40 percent of them were from cat owners.

Once Hawthorne instructed the Texas A&M team to start working on cats a little over a year ago, Kraemer said, the cloning proceeded relatively quickly.

He said scientists had eventually created 87 cloned embryos. This is accomplished by removing the nucleus from an egg and replacing it with the nucleus from an adult female cat. When cloning is successful, the implanted nucleus takes control of the egg and prompts it to develop as if it were fertilized by a sperm.

The cloned embryos were transplanted into the wombs of eight surrogate cats,

Kraemer said. Two of the surrogates became pregnant, but only one ultimately gave a live birth.

Kraemer said the genetic material used to produce CC was derived from the ovarian cells of a female cat named Rainbow. He said mice, cattle and sheep had been cloned using ovarian cells, indicating that ovaries might be a fruitful source of nuclear material for cloning.

SAME GENES, DIFFERENT MARKINGS

Tests by scientists at the University of California at Davis have confirmed that CC is an exact genetic duplicate of Rainbow. But CC's markings are quite different because calico markings are not fully determined by genetic coding but are the result of random molecular changes that occur during fetal development.

But Kraemer would not hazard a guess as to when the cat cloning process might be ready for commercialization or how much it might cost. "We know we can do it because we did it once, but it took us months, and we don't know what it will take before we can do it again," he said.

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Meanwhile, Hawthorne said he had not given up on his first passion, dog cloning, and said the Texas A&M scientists had already had some cloned dog pregnancies reach mid-term. He could not predict when, but expressed confidence they would ultimately succeed.

Norman Fost, a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin, said he saw no moral problem with the cat cloning, either as a scientific experiment or as a potential business, provided the company is honest with consumers.

"If families think they're going to get their old cat back, they're going to be disappointed because cats, like people, are shaped by environment as well as heredity," Fost said. "Presumably, what people loved about their cat was its personality, and that's unlikely to be replaced by cloning."

A scientific paper on the cat-cloning experiment is scheduled for publication in a forthcoming issue of the journal Nature, but Texas A&M officials released details of the project after a story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal reported the success.

Creating a cat's genetic twin

After dozens of attempts, a group of scientists succeeded in cloning a cat. The kitten, CC, for Carbon Copy, is a genetic match with the donor cat, but the two actually differ in appearance.

RAINBOW'S DNA ADDED TO EGGS

RESULTING EMBRYOS IMPLANTED IN ALLIE

DNA REMOVED FROM EGGS

ONE EMBRYO GROWS INTO CC

1 GENETIC TRANSFER Scientists remove the DNA-containing nucleus from several cells of a calico cat, Rainbow, right, and transfer each nucleus into an egg that has been emptied of its DNA. Five embryos are created.

2 PREGNANCY The embryos are implanted in Allie, the surrogate mother, a tabbie. One of the eggs successfully develops into CC.

3 BIRTH OF A CLONE The sole kitten born, CC is shown here at age 7 weeks with Allie. Although both donor and offspring are calicos, CC's markings are not a perfect match with Rainbow's. Other factors beyond genetics influence coloring in cats.

Source: Nature; photographs by College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University

New York Times Graphic

FAQs

What happens if you clone a cat? ›

Cloning your cat is easier than you think. From just a few small skin biopsy samples, enough genetic material can be preserved to create a new individual. Your cloned cat will have the exact same DNA of your original cat and so will be a full genetic twin, just born at a later time to your original.

Why do cloned cats look different? ›

CC was genetically identical to Rainbow, the cat who donated the genetic material. But the cats looked different because coat patterns and other features can be determined in the womb.

How was carbon copy the cat cloned? ›

The cloned embryos were created using nuclear transfer, the same technique used to create Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal. The researchers took the nucleus of a cell from Rainbow and implanted it into another cat's egg cell, whose nucleus had been removed.

Do cloned animals act the same? ›

Myth: Clones have exactly the same temperament and personality as the animals from which they were cloned. Temperament is only partly determined by genetics; a lot has to do with the way an animal has been raised.

Do cloned cats have the same markings? ›

However even though the clone will be genetically identical, some animals (especially cats) are unlikely to have the same markings .

Do cloned animals age faster? ›

After examining more than a dozen cloned sheep old enough to be considered senior citizens — including four clones of the same ewe as Dolly — researchers concluded that they weren't growing old any faster than sheep born through more conventional means.

Do clones share the same genetic information? ›

Clones contain identical sets of genetic material in the nucleus—the compartment that contains the chromosomes—of every cell in their bodies. Thus, cells from two clones have the same DNA and the same genes in their nuclei.

Why does CC not look like rainbow? ›

C.C had a different colour coat to Rainbow because the genetic information used to clone her was taken from just one cell. This cell would have already undergone permanent X inactivation and would have had the orange making gene inactivated.

Do clones have the same eye color? ›

There are some things that would almost certainly be the same for your clones. These would be traits that are hardly affected by the environment. So for example, your clones will probably have the same hair and eye color. They will have the same blood type and maybe some of the same genetic diseases.

Is CC the cloned cat still alive? ›

Copy Cat was born Dec. 22, 2001. CC passed away at the age of 18 after being diagnosed with kidney failure, according to Texas A&M University. The cloned cat advanced science by helping all in the scientific community understand that cloning can be effective in producing a healthy animal, the university stated.

Is the first cloned cat still alive? ›

Six months after birth, CC was adopted by a senior professor of reproductive science laboratory of the college. "We feel sorry for the death of CC in CVM. As the world's first cloned cat, CC helped everyone in the scientific community understand that cloning can effectively produce healthy animals," said Dr. Eleanor M.

Who was the first cloned pet? ›

C.C. the cat has died in Texas at the ripe old age of 18. She was the first cloned pet, genetically identical to her donor but with a friendlier disposition and a differently patterned coat.

Can a human get pregnant by an animal? ›

Ethical considerations preclude definitive research on the subject, but it's safe to say that human DNA has become so different from that of other animals that interbreeding would likely be impossible.

What is the success rate of cloning? ›

The efficiency of cloning, defined as the proportion of transferred embryos that result in viable offspring, is approximately 2 to 3% for all species.

Do clones live shorter lives? ›

Researches found that many netizens have the stereotype that "animals being cloned generally have a shorter life span". Is the life span of cloned animals shorter than normal? A short answer is, the life span of cloned animals is normal.

What are the disadvantages of cloning? ›

These include an increase in birth size and a variety of defects in vital organs, such as the liver, brain and heart. Other consequences include premature aging and problems with the immune system. Another potential problem centers on the relative age of the cloned cell's chromosomes.

How long do clones live in real life? ›

The closest answer is that, like natural-born humans, a clone's lifespan varies, although they probably weren't designed to live more than 50 human years (that would make a clone 100 years old).

What percent of cloned animals have defects? ›

Up to 4% of genes malfunction, possibly explaining clones' low success rate. Looks aren't everything. New research suggests even healthy-looking clones may have hundreds of malfunctioning genes.

How old are clones mentally? ›

The Clones, in the war years, were mentally aged between 10 and 13. It was only their physical growth that was accelerated.

What is the longest living cloned animal? ›

Dolly was the only baby sheep to be born live out of a total of 277 cloned embryos. She gave birth to six babies and died of lung disease at the age of six.

What is the oldest cloned animal? ›

On July 5, 1996, Dolly the sheep—the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell—is born at the Roslin Institute in Scotland.

Does cloning make an exact copy? ›

Cloning is a technique scientists use to make exact genetic copies of living things. Genes, cells, tissues, and even whole animals can all be cloned. Some clones already exist in nature. Single-celled organisms like bacteria make exact copies of themselves each time they reproduce.

Would clones have the same fingerprints? ›

Even though a clone is genetically identical to its host, a clone would not have the same fingerprints as its host because fingerprints are not genetically determined, rather they are formed in the womb as result of external processes.

Why does cloning have a low success rate? ›

What are the risks associated with cloning? Cloned embryos are more likely to be lost during pregnancy than normal embryos, which accounts for the low success rate of cloning. Large Offspring Syndrome ( LOS ) can also affect some cloned animals.

Can you clone a calico? ›

Mark Westhusin and colleagues at Texas A&M University created the kitten by removing genetic material from a normal cat's egg, replacing it with DNA from a mature body cell of a donor calico (white fur with gray and brown patches), then implanting the egg into a tabby (brown fur with darker stripes) surrogate.

When was the first human cloned? ›

On Dec. 27, 2002, Brigitte Boisselier held a press conference in Florida, announcing the birth of the first human clone, called Eve.

How long is the life of a cat? ›

What race are clones? ›

Clone trooper
SpeciesHuman (cloned)
GenderMale
OccupationSoldiers
AffiliationGalactic Republic Galactic Empire
7 more rows

What is the rarest eye color? ›

At some point, you've probably wondered what the rarest eye color is. The answer is green, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Only about 2 percent of the world's population sport this shade.

Do clones age differently? ›

Age-memory

"A new born clone might look like a lamb, but in terms of cellular senescence it would be much older, and the animal would start to develop diseases associated with aging at a much younger age."

Is Poppy the cat still alive? ›

Poppy was born in February 1990, the same month Nelson Mandela was released from prison and lived through five British Prime Ministers. She is reported to have passed away on Friday following a problem with her hind legs and a water infection.

How long did Copy Cat live? ›

Copy Cat, the world's first cloned cat dies 18 years after being cloned in College Station. COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The world's first cloned cat has passed away after being diagnosed with kidney failure. CC, short for Copy Cat, passed away on March 3 in College Station at the age of 18. She was born on Dec.

How long did the oldest clone live? ›

That would be Kix. Due to his being frozen in stasis by the Separatists, he survived for 50 years after the end of the Clone Wars before being awakened by a pirate gang several years before the events of the sequel trilogy.

Can cloned cats reproduce? ›

These results indicated that cloned male cats have normal reproductive fertility and lie within the normal range of gonadal hormone production. All F1 kittens were produced by natural breeding and delivery, and are still alive and have normal growth health (27 months age).

What was the last cloned? ›

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday that the cloned ferret, Elizabeth Ann, was cloned from the cells of another black-footed ferret, Willa, that lived more than three decades ago.

Is cat cloning ethical? ›

It is possible for pet parents in the United States to have their cats and dogs cloned, but the process is ethically questionable. Cloning uses multiple dogs or cats to create one cloned puppy or kitten.

What celebrities have cloned their pets? ›

In her interview with Variety, Ms. Streisand revealed that two of her three Coton de Tulear dogs were clones. Specifically, the magazine reported that the dogs — Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett — had been cloned from cells taken from the mouth and stomach of Ms.

When was the first successful animal clone? ›

On July 5, 1996, scientists at Scotland's Roslin Institute announced that they had successfully cloned the first animal from an adult cell — a sheep named Dolly.

Who cloned their dog twice? ›

Barbra Streisand has spoken out about her decision to clone her dog Samantha, twice. Speaking to The Times, the Hollywood actor recalled the moment her pet, which was a Coton de Tulear breed, was lying on her deathbed in 2017 and the Funny Girl star realised she “couldn't bear to lose her”.

Can a human get pregnant by 2 different guys? ›

Superfecundation twins: When a woman has intercourse with two different men in a short period of time while ovulating, it's possible for both men to impregnate her separately. In this case, two different sperm impregnate two different eggs.

Can a dog pregnant a cat? ›

Can a Dog Impregnate a Cat? Throughout the years, there have been several speculations and theories about dogs impregnating a cat or vice versa. However, due to their huge biological differences, dogs can never impregnate a cat. With this, a dog's sperm can never fertilize a cat's egg.

Do most cloning attempts fail? ›

As Weldon writes: “Ninety-five to ninety-seven percent of animal cloning attempts still end in failure, and the scientists who cloned Dolly failed 276 times before they succeeded in producing a single live-born clone of an adult sheep” (Weldon, 2002).

How long does it take to clone a cat? ›

The cloning process requires the same gestation (60-65 days) and nursing process (56 days) as with any pet breeding technique. ViaGen Pets works with clients in the order in which they are received, and timelines can vary slightly based upon current pet cloning client demand.

Which country is leading in cloning? ›

South Korea is a leading country in research cloning. The government funded the work of the two South Korean scientists who stunned the world in February, announcing they had cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells from them.

Do clones age twice as fast? ›

Although the exact rate at which clones aged is unknown, it appears to be nearly twice as fast a natural-born Human and it is theorized that this rate increased as clones grew older—especially under stress, thus leading to a dramatic shortening of the clones' life expectancy.

Should clones get darkness? ›

Clones need plenty of light to root and grow, but that light needs to be less intense than what you'll use once it's transplanted. T5 and CFL grow lights can offer your clones the vegging (blue) spectrum they need without the intensity that could take it out.

How much is it to clone a cat? ›

How much does it cost to clone a cat? Cloning your cat with ViaGen Pets & Equine costs $35,000.

Is cloning cats safe? ›

There is little health risk in collecting the tissue from your pet. However, there are other factors to consider that veterinarians would strongly urge you to keep in mind. Cloning cannot guarantee a perfect physical copy or that they will have the same personality.

Are cloned cats healthy? ›

Your cloned cat will be just as healthy and live just as long as your current cat, and is no more susceptible to health issues than any other cat. If you are interested in cat cloning, the first step you should take is to preserve your cat's genes through genetic preservation (GP).

How expensive is it to clone a cat? ›

The cost of cloning a cat is $35,000 and $50,000 for a dog. ViaGen requires a deposit of half the amount to the start the process and the remainder when the process has been completed. They have refund policies in place should the tissue samples not be viable or the cloning process not possible for other reasons.

Why you should not clone your pet? ›

Cloned animals prone to disease

A growing number of scientific studies show that cloned animals are more prone to disease and that a large number of clones are not born fit and healthy. A 2018 report by Columbia University in New York says that the average success rate is just 20 percent.

Why should I not clone my pet? ›

Because cloning is not a natural process, there can be abnormalities in the embryos that lead to miscarriages or death just after birth, Ko said.

How long do cloned pets live? ›

But in most cases, clones have been just as healthy as dogs that aren't cloned. The first dog clone was created in 2005—an Afghan hound named Snuppy in South Korea. Snuppy lived to be about 10-years-old before she died of cancer. Afghan hounds live for about 11 years.

What is the problem with cloned animals? ›

Researchers have observed some adverse health effects in sheep and other mammals that have been cloned. These include an increase in birth size and a variety of defects in vital organs, such as the liver, brain and heart. Other consequences include premature aging and problems with the immune system.

How much does it cost to clone a cat 2022? ›

In general, the process of cloning a cat can cost around $35,000, although this amount depends on where you go and the size of your pet. On top of that, you have to find a veterinarian that is willing to take tissues samples from your cat and send them to the cloning company.

Can you clone a cat from its ashes? ›

No. Only complete and active somatic cells can be used for pet cloning. Hair, scurf, bone, nail, saliva, bloodstain and other materials are all possible to extract DNA from an organism.

Can you clone a cat with just hair? ›

Unfortunately, no. Cloning your pet from either hair or teeth is not a possibility. This is due to the DNA needing to be in a living state in order to be viable for regenerate processes, such as cell culture and cloning.

Is cloning of pets a good idea? ›

“The main ethical concern about cloning a pet is that doing so doesn't actually provide any medical benefit to the health of a pet or to people,” says Dr. Robert Klitzman, Academic Director of the Master of Science in Bioethics program at Columbia University's School of Professional Studies.

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